January 11th, 2013
Sufi Whirling Dervishes
Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, emphasizes universal love, peace, acceptance of various spiritual paths and a mystical union with the divine. It is associated with the dancing of whirling dervishes, who originated in the 13th century as followers of the poet and Muslim mystic, Rumi. Their dance is a traditional form of Sufi worship, a continuous twirling with one hand pointed upward reaching for the divine and the other hand pointed toward the ground. Manjula Kumar, a program manager at the Smithsonian Institution, explains how the dancing of these whirling dervishes from Turkey serves as “a spiritual offering.” They were part of a Smithsonian symposium on the concept of Sufism and searching for the divine through the arts. Produced, edited, and interview by Lauren Talley.